For my first posted review, I figure I will post one that I made sometime last year while I gather up a few more reviews to build up a buffer. So, I bring you my first impressions into the FPS RPG known as Borderlands!
Creator: GearBox Software
Publisher: 2k Publishing
Genre: FPS RPG
System: 360, PS3, PC
A first impressions review
Well, I've been playing this game across a couple platforms, and I am pretty much hooked on it for now. Here is a quick rundown of the mechanics and my first impressions of it.
What is Borderlands you may ask? Well it is pretty much a FPS game that contains a number of RPG elements to it. The gameply style is that of an FPS, as in you run around shooting, killing, and reaping the spoils of your slaughter. There are also four character classes (Soldier, all around fighter that can help support players. Hunter, the sniper/gunslinger that is high damage yet squishy. Brick, explosives/melee tank. Siren, quick, surprise skirmish attacks with an elemental affinity.)
The RPG elements come in the form of verious statistics and effects found in the weapons (thus their tagline of "87 Bajillion guns). There is also an EXP system where every kill, mission completion, and challenge completion result in your character gaining levels. Many weapons have level restrictions, and rarity levels that are VERY similar to WoW (White name = common, Green = uncommon, Blue = rare, Purple = epic. Haven't found anyhting higher). There are also a bunch of weapon classes that you can gain skill in the more you use said weapons. Each character class has a "preference" for weapons, which come about as you spend skill points on each level after level 5. For example, the Hunter prefers Sniper Rifles and Revolvers, and his skill trees have elements which enhance one or the other (Increased Sniper damage, faster Revolver firing rate, etc). So, while all character classes can use all forms of weapons, each one gradually leans towards specifics, with three different skill trees for each class, so the characters can be customized even more.
Now, there is also another selling point to this game in that it offers cooperative (and competitive) play. The PS3 and 360 offer 4-player online and 2-player split screen options, which is lacking in most games, and is pulled off rather well... if you can stand having a smaller HUD. The PC online play is a bit wonky as the servers were overloaded on release day, but I was able to get into a game with a couple other friends, and aside from the massive amount of dying, it was pretty fun overall. Over time, the issues have been getting ironed out, but there are some lingering lag issues. Also the enemies are scaled up in difficulty the more players that are in the game, so while you may be able to pop the head off of an enemy in single player with one headshot... it takes a couple more in multiplayer, along with the enemies hitting harder and using more powerful abilities not usually seen in single player. So, the more help you have, the harder it gets. The PC version also requires a GameSpy ID, while the PS3 and 360 use their own respective online networks.
Overall, it is a rather fun game, and most fans of Fallout and Bioshock may end up taking a liking towards this game as well.
Points and numbers (PC Version):
Storyline: 8.75/10 - Pretty generic, so you can't really go into this expecting an epic storyline. You are a treasure hunter on a somewhat lawless planet, looking for a lost cache of awesome. Straightforward, but no real surprises. What gets the points here is the amount of detail that the sidequests give on the lay of the land and the history of the area
Graphics: 8.75/10 - Very pretty in many areas, and well done throughout the game. However, there is some obvious lag when it comes to making distance shots, and when you load into a new area there can be a lot of pixellation. Other than that, its a very visually beautiful game as far as cel-shading can go.
Controls & Gameplay Elements: 9.75/10 - Pretty much your generic FPS interface, with the ability to change the keybinds around and the option to use a controller/joystick. Kinda hard to mess this up, and this game did not do so. So it gets full points for controls. In regards to gameplay elements, it works well enough for me. It is very much a Bioshock & Fallout-esque type of game. A FPS interface with a massive amount of RPG elements. You have a HP-based healthbar which increases as you level up. A Halo-esque shield that you can upgrade by finding items. Weapons that have generated stats (leading to an upwards of a couple million gun variations!!!). Character classes (each with their own unique traits). Multiple talent trees for each class (3 each). Enemies increase in difficulty with more players in the game at once. Vehicles, towns, shops, quests, etc etc etc. Overall, I can't really find anything that is bad with the gameplay elements. Oh fine, if I have to really nitpick, I can say that it is a bit... easy, I guess. You can find shields with health regeneration, or ample damage resistance, which when used correctly can make a character almost invincible for any given situation. Other than that, GearBox did a fantastic job.
Sound & Music: 9/10 - Great title song that suits the theme of the game, so many points for that. The voice acting is guite good as well from all characters, and the dialogue is laced with quick bits of humor. There is some pretty identifiable fighting background music, and most of the ambient sounds do give a great feel of the areas that you are in. While this is nowhere near that of a symphonic Final Fantasy soundtrack, its sounds and music fit in with the setting, and do enhance the gameplay quite a bit.
Replayability: 10/10 - This is the strongest point of this game. With its co-op multiplayer functionality, you can go back in and just start shooting everything up with your friends, even if you aren't working on your specific quests. It is one of the few games where I have no problem with just logging on, joining a friends game, and just start killing enemies while he is looking for nearby quest items. After you finish the game once, you are able to go into a 2nd playthrough with harder enemies and better item drops as you move to the level cap. While the first playthrough can be done at around level 35, playthrough 2 starts at 35 and goes well up to 50. There are also a few DLC packs available that add more missions, weapons, enemies, and areas. The latest increases the level cap to 61, and there are even more future DLC packs in the works.
Overall: 46/50 : 92.25/100 : A-
Reccomendation: DEFINITELY rent, if not already a purchase. Highly reccomended, especially for any fans of the Bioshock or Fallout series.